Monday, March 24, 2014

Stream for County Executive?

Jo Mannies reports that Rep. Rick Stream will be tapped to run for St. Louis County Executive.

“Stream could not be reached, but activists in both parties were circulating his name on Friday as a possible GOP favorite. Stream is a staunch conservative but has a less combative image than some Republican leaders in the state Capitol.  A retired military man, he also has financial expertise.”  Read it here.

It’s an uphill battle for any Republican given the increasing trend in St. Louis County toward Democratic dominance.  However there are two factors at play which offer some glimmer of hope.  First, 2014 will be a low turn-out election.  So the natural Democratic advantage won’t be as overwhelming as it would be in 2016.  Second, Democrats have a primary between incumbent Charlie Dooley and Councilman Steve Stenger, a primary which promises to get nasty. 

Stream needs the winner of that primary to wake up August 6 with a muddied name and an emptied bank account.  Put that together with a strong Republican year demoralizing Democrats and a weak turnout with no top-of-the-ticket race – perhaps an uncontested auditor’s race even – and Stream might have path to victory.  Republicans think Dooley – a weakened Dooley – is their best match-up, by the way.

That’s a lot of “mights,” but it’s not impossible.

And – the worst case scenario for Stream here: increased name ID for his 2016 Senate 15 race….

Senate 26 Over the Weekend

Rep. Dave Schatz recorded another $37,500 in large contributions over the weekend… Speaker Tim Jones said he won’t run and that Schatz “is a good man.”  Now the world awaits former Jane Cunningham’s decision whether she will run or not…

Cunningham would face some serious obstacles in her bid.  The two biggest are a huge fundraising head start by Schatz, and the natural geography of the district favors Schatz the Franklin County candidate.

The Second Half

Here’s where selected issues appear to be as we start the second half of the session…

Right to Work

It’s expected that Speaker Tim Jones will push for a floor vote on this after filing closes on Tuesday.  However, the opposition has been gaining more and more momentum as this bill has stalled.  It’s still expected that it will pass the House, but a squeaky close vote may make it a non-starter in the Senate.

Student Transfer

The Senate’s student transfer bill will surely find many changes waiting for it in the House, but the odds of this one finding final passage are much higher than I’d have thought at the beginning of session.  That’s because the reform groups are on-board with the changes, and there wasn’t any poison pill that the establishment just couldn’t live with.  Of course that could change in the House, but there’s plenty of time to pass this.

Criminal Code

The odd couple Sens. Jolie Justus and Bob Dixon are exactly the right people to be handling the mammoth criminal code reform.  It’s been four decades since the last overhaul, and their strategy – omit anything really controversial and stick with rationalizing and updating the code – makes sense.  I think it happens.  Together with the student transfer bill, it would be proof that despite all the gnashing of punditry teeth, the Missouri General Assembly can and does still work.  Sometimes.

Medicaid Expansion

Just not going to happen this year.  Maybe next year, when it’s not an election year, and Sen. John Lamping isn’t in the Senate, and Republicans have become more comfortable with the idea that the Jay Barnesian reforms are truly Republican ideas.  But this year, nope.

Abortion Wait Period

This is the most dangerous bill to the bipartisanship Senate calm; it’s the one that could incite a PQ from the supermajority.  This is really Justus’ test.  Can she stop the abortion bill getting to final passage, or will Dems’ obstruction incite the PQ from gruff Floor Leader Ron Richard

Medical Malpractice

Like welfare queens, frivolous lawsuits have become a staple red meat of the Republican rhetorical diet.  Sen. Dan Brown appears to have started his bill in a place to give lots of space for a compromise.  But I still don’t think it happens this year.

Transportation Sales Tax

During the Senate 26 drama, Sen. Brian Nieves – in one of his Facebook soliloquies – chided Rep. Dave Schatz for having supported the “largest tax increase in state history.”  Them’s fighting words, and one wonders whether the resurfacing of that sound-bite snarl will give pause to those on the fence about pushing the one-cent transportation sales tax.

Tax Cut

I don’t think anyone believes that global tax credit reform is doable, and as a result there’s no overall tax strategy for economic development.  The result is a haphazard tax policy by bidding – “I’ll see your income tax reduction and raise you a corporate tax phase-out…”  What ultimately lands on Governor Jay Nixon’s desk is anyone’s guess at this point.  But assuming it’s not monstrous in size, I think he’ll sign it…

Kenton Passes

Joe Kenton, who served in the legislature for twelve years, died.  From his obituary…

“Joe was a decorated six battle star US Navy WWII veteran, serving from 1941-1946. He rose from apprentice seaman to command an LSM 335 landing ship at the age of 22, a story he shared with his children and grandchildren when urging them to excel. He taught History and Government at KSU… A pioneer of endowments for public school districts in Missouri, he began and served as first president of the Cooperating School Districts of Greater KC. Joe served for 12 years in the Missouri House of Representatives and was chairman of the Special House Committee on the KC Public School District… Joe actively worked as a stamp dealer for 41 years. Joe loved the sea and took every opportunity to set sail, including a 2010 world cruise. His last sea tour, at age 89, was always his favorite, the Panama Canal…  The family invites friends to join them in celebrating Joe's life from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 29, at Blue Hills Country Club. Mr. Kenton requested that any contributions be made to Harvesters.”

Read his obituary here

Bits

The Regional Business Council announced it was funding three-year grant totaling $225,000 to support KIPP St. Louis Talent Acquisition Program.  It “will be used to recruit, select and retain excellent teachers, school leaders and regional staff. A Director of Talent Acquisition has been hired to lead and accelerate the effort toward establishing a total of six schools in the area. Expected outcomes are a record number of teacher and staff applications, a professional and streamlined selection process, and a team of staff hired well before the start of the school year.”

Nice east-west large market simultaneous earned media play by minority party, freshman Rep. John Wright over the weekend.  Saturday, KC Star’s Steve Kraske wrote a column concerning his ethics opinions (see it here).  And Sunday he got the op/ed position in the Post-Dispatch (see it here).  Wright sometimes looks like he doesn’t fit into Jeff City – too quiet, too studious. Will this sudden attention will irritate some and make others jealous?  We’ll see.  Who knows, maybe Wright is the “right” messenger to get others on board with some true ethics reform in Missouri.

Bad omen for Rep. Ed Schieffer’s senate campaign?  “Checks can be sent to: 183 Thornhill Cemetery Dr….”

Filing Bits

Since my last update on Thursday morning, here are new filers for state legislative races.  The last day of filing is tomorrow…

In House 18, Bob Rowland filed to run as a Republican.  This is Rep. Jay Swearingen’s seat.  Democrats have a potentially spirited primary, but they should still be able to retain this seat easily.  For what it’s worth, it looks like Rowland flies the flag (see it here).

In House 23, Derron Black filed to run as Republican.  Incumbent Rep. Randy Dunn should be safe.

In House 27, a third Democrat, Sherbaz Khan, has filed.  Rep. Bonnaye Mims is the incumbent, and expected to return.

In House 33, Syed Asif filed to run as a Democrat.  Incumbent Rep. Donna Pfautsch is the favorite.

In House 47, Betsy Phillips to run as a Republican.  She’s the second Republican to file.  The Democratic incumbent, Rep. John Wright, is the favorite.

In House 61, Allan Seals filed to run as a Republican.  This is Dave Schatz’ soon-to-be-old seat.  Seals will face Justin Alferman in the GOP primary.

In House 63, David Knisley filed to run as a Democrat.  Republican incumbent Bryan Spencer shouldn’t have trouble holding this seat.

In House 67, Dwayne A Strickland filed to run as a Republican.  This is Steve Webb’s old seat.  It will stay in Democratic hands.

In House 86, Dawn Price filed to run as a Democrat. This is Rory Ellinger’s seat.  Price is the third candidate to file since Ellinger announced his retirement.  I believe Price is the wife of University Councilman Byron Price.

In House 98, Rea Scharnhorst, wife of the incumbent termed state representative Dwight Scharnhorst, filed to replace him.  She joins two other Republicans in that primary.

In House 129, John Wilson filed to run as a Democrat.  It is a heavy Republican district and Wilson filed an exemption with the Missouri Ethics Commission, meaning he won’t be raising more than $500.  Rep. Sandy Crawford is the incumbent.

In House 147, Blake Hopper filed to run as a Democrat.  He is the second Democrat to file.  Republican incumbent Kathy Swan is safe.

In House 157, Vince Jennings filed to run as a Democrat.  The incumbent Rep. Mike Moon faces Julie Ruzicka – wife of former Rep. Don Ruzicka – in the Republican primary.  According to his twitter account, Jennings “Favors legal cannabis. Equality. Labor. Liberty.”

Et Tu, White House?

From the Wall Street Journal… “The White House is testing smartphones from Samsung Electronics Corp. and LG Electronics Inc. for internal use, a person familiar with the matter said, threatening one of the last and most high-profile strongholds of BlackBerry Ltd. The devices are being tested by the White House's internal technology team and the White House Communications Agency, a military unit in charge of President Barack Obama's communications, the person said… President Obama uses a modified BlackBerry, long a point of pride for the Waterloo, Ontario, company. Apple Inc. for the last few years has been chipping away at BlackBerry's once-dominant position in the government sector, and Samsung has invested heavily to win more government customers… The loss of key government users for BlackBerry comes on top of more widespread losses the company has suffered in the consumer smartphone market. BlackBerry once had roughly half of the North American smartphone market, but now makes up just 0.6% of that market, according to IDC.”  Read it here.

Help Wanted

KIPP St. Louis is hiring a Chief Operating Officer (COO) “to help manage and support the organization’s mission and reflect the priorities of KIPP St. Louis. A new position to support growth, this senior leader will oversee the implementation of a new strategic business plan that will allow KIPP St Louis to scale and serve more youth. In this role, the COO will help build and maintain the operational and financial infrastructure necessary to guide KIPP’s growth in developing college-preparatory schools that lead children from low income communities on the mountain climb to and through college.”  See the ad here.

Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission seeks an attorney for its Jefferson City office. “Staff attorney responsibilities include preparing draft decisions/orders, providing legal advice to Commissioners and staff, and responding to public inquiries. Position requires excellent writing and oral communication skills. Experience in the areas of tax law, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Medicaid provider law, and /or professional licensing a plus. Starting salary: $50,000 - $55,000.”   See ad here.

Fundraising Events

From Mary Scruggs’ indispensable events calendar:

Sen. Mike Parson Luncheon – Madison’s Café, Jefferson City – 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Rep. Paul Wieland Reception – Madison’s Café, Jefferson City – 5:30-7:00 p.m.

Reps. Denny Hoskins, John Diehl & Mike Cierpiot Reception – Gumbo Bottoms, Jefferson City – 7-8:30 p.m.

Lobbyist Registrations

From the Gate Way Group website:

Shawn Furey added Nurtur Health Inc.

George L Oestreich added Care Management Technologies Inc.

Don Stamper added Columbia Apartment Owners Association, and Columbia Board of Realtors.

Karen Strange added T.H.E. Professional Pet Breeders.

$5K+ Contributions

Professional Firefighters of Tri-County PAC - $7,500 from Creve Coeur Firefighters Outreach Fund.

Citizens for Schatz - $5,000 from Steven Dickey.

Citizens for Schatz - $7,500 from Skyview Construction & Crane LLC.

Teamsters Local Union No 688 Political Action Committee - $11,124 from DRIVE Committee.

Friends of Tom Schweich - $10,000 from Friends of Tilley.

Citizens for Schatz - $5,001 from N.B. West Contracting Co.

Missourians for Koster - $10,000 from Iron Workers Local No. 10 PAC.

Progress KC PAC – Black & Veatch.

Citizens for Schatz - $5,001 from Don Kelly Contractors Inc.

Citizens for Schatz - $5,500 from Robert Sellenriek.

Citizens for Schatz - $7,500 from Bradley Willard.

Friends of Gina Jaksetic - $10,000 from Friends of Rick Stream.

Missouri Early Voting Fund - $25,000 from Langdon & Emison.

Missouri Early Voting Fund - $10,000 from SEIU Missouri Kansas State Council.

Birthdays

Happy birthdays to Mike Gibbons (55), Tony Wyche and Kelly Schultz.